Tag Archives: Happiness

The Healing Power of Women (read)

 

In the heart of every woman beats the longing to sit with her sisters, to crack open, connect deeply and share her vulnerability, her joys, fears and her dreams. In ancient times the unfettered magic of the sacred feminine flowed freely. Her abundant fertility and creative power was in harmony with the principles of nature and flourished.

For over 2000 years, the dominant paradigm in our world has been the masculine impetus. This has caused suppression and wounding of the feminine force in both women and men. With all the advances of today, women are still secondary, in decision making, in influence and in terms of their access to power. Yet, women shape the generations to come, women have tremendous creative power to generate new life, to heal communities, create peace and so much more.

While sisterhood is rising and becoming a powerful healing force, many women are still healing their own wounds. Like most women, I have had my share of feminine wounding. I come from an ancestral heritage of splintered and wounded femininity. Adopted at birth, I have a dual lineage of birth parents and adoptive parents and in both of these families there is the tremendous loss and alienation from giving up children for adoption and the rupture of the primal bond between mother and child, which is so core to wholeness and the feminine mystery.

The primal bond between mother and child is core to wholeness and the feminine mystery.The primal bond between mother and child is core to wholeness and the feminine mystery.

My own journey with sisterhood has been interesting and not always easy. But so much of my healing has been through sisters and learning to receive feminine nurturing and be present to my own femininity and power. Being adopted left me with feelings of abandonment, low self worth and trust issues. I’ve spent years restoring the dislocated feminine in myself, healing my heart and my ability to love myself and others and learning to create strong bonds and relationships. Much of this journey has been through the passage of motherhood. I have four young children, three of them daughters and with each pregnancy and birth I healed more of my own pain and disconnection from myself. I feel a sacred responsibility to initiate my daughters into sistership and to give them a legacy of whole female relationships and feminine power. Healing the female line and freeing my ancestors has been an important initiation in my life and women have been vital in supporting this journey. The more I’ve sat in circle with women over the years, shared my vulnerability and opened my heart in trust, a kind of entrainment has helped heal the wounds of abandonment.

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. –  Helen Keller

Women are created to be together, to collaborate, to support each other, and to be a sacred community. These special moments lift the spirit and melt the heart. And science has shown that sisterhood also has wonderful benefits for women’s health.

Women are created to be together, to collaborate, to support each other, and to be a sacred community. Women are created to be together, to collaborate, to support each other, and to be a sacred community.

Ancient Sisterhood Traditions

The magic of sisterhood fills the longing for authenticity, deep connection and the expression of our wildness that was expressed so freely in ancient times. In some indigenous cultures, this tradition is still alive and increasingly it is being revived by women across the world. Traditions like the Red Tent, honouring rites of passage, healing circles, fertility rituals, and other indigenous women’s business nourished women and kept the whole tribe strong.

The Red Tent provided a place for women to recalibrate, incubate, dream, slow down and reconnect, during their moon time. This monthly cycle is far more than just a physical cycle, it is a cycle of transmutation, offering the potential for rebirth each month. It is a time of renewal and letting go.

Spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle has long said that the pain body is more active just before a woman menstruates. According to him your pain body is a kind of reservoir of accumulated pain, a field of negative energy. It can be both personal and collective and is made up of all the energetic residues of your pain from childhood. The pain body can either be dormant or active. When it is active it can take you over and feed on pain, which could explain the blues during or just before your period. If you approach this time with awareness you can stay present to emotions that intensify and see it as a healing opportunity to dissolve the pain body and heal past traumas.

At this moon time women would retreat together, as their cycles would be synchronised and they would sit in the tent together, being nurtured and cared for by the other women as they went through the healing process of shedding their womb. A woman is more psychic and the veil is thin between the worlds for her when she is bleeding. Taking the time to be still she can easily open to higher inspiration and dreaming at this time.

The Red Tent provided a place for women to recalibrate, incubate, dream, slow down and reconnect, during their moon time. The Red Tent provided a place for women to recalibrate, incubate, dream, slow down and reconnect, during their moon time.

“Sister, open your heart, fling your hopes high and set your dreams aloft. I am here to hold your hand.” – Maya Angelou

In the old spiritual traditions women were the keepers of the ancient wisdom. They maintained harmony and balance in the natural world and their communities. Due to their emotional openness and connection to their instinctual nature, their vision and ability to tap into higher wisdom was revered and used for the advantage of the whole community. Women’s bodies were seen as sacred alchemical vessels of creation and transformation. And in many traditions, women were the personification of the Goddess on earth, channels who could bridge the worlds with sacred rituals.

Traditional ways women kept their bonds strong were through honouring the rites of passage in a woman’s life, which were linked to her sexuality and fertility. In the Native American Tradition and many others, the onset of menstruation in a young girl was celebrated with a ceremony of huge significance that welcomed her into womanhood. These rites of passage were a major event and  to celebrate a young girl becoming a woman, or when a woman entered motherhood, as well as the passage of a woman into her crone wisdom at menopause, were shared with their sisters.

In the old spiritual traditions women were the keepers of the ancient wisdom.In the old spiritual traditions women were the keepers of the ancient wisdom.

In Indigenous cultures many of the activities of daily life were shared. Women gathered the food and cooked together, while singing and sharing. Women, like the ancient Maya, created textiles, clothes, spinning and weaving together, and were also responsible for tending to the spiritual aspects of day to day life. Australian Indigenous women cared for each other’s children, as if they were their own and the children often didn’t know which woman was their birth mother as these bonds were so close. In today’s fragmented society, some women feel alienated and alone, longing for this connection with other women that was such a natural part of everyday life.

Women also gathered in circles on the Full and New Moon for ceremony and rituals to heal and support one another. Many feminine traditions included the honouring of the earth and the Goddess. In Europe before Biblical times and the suppression of women, these traditions celebrated fertility and the power of the Divine Feminine.

In the temples of India, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Sumeria, and ancient Europe, women were taught to develop their powers of perception, intuition, and how to refine the powerful energy of emotion. They learnt how to awaken nurture and enhance their feminine gifts. Today, women are reclaiming their spiritual power and innate wisdom, creating community and taking up leadership.

Women gathered in circles on the Full and New Moon for ceremony and rituals to heal and support one another.Women gathered in circles on the Full and New Moon to heal and support one another.

So what is sisterhood?

Sisterhood is not an exclusive group, or an anti-men symposium. It is a way of being. It is a celebration of all that is gloriously and potently feminine. It is foremost a choice to be alive and luscious in your female mystery, and it is a path of the heart. There is sisterhood between friends, between a mother and a daughter, a grandmother and her grandchild, a teacher and her student. Sisterhood is a movement of kindness. It encompasses all women, no matter what their shape, nationality or beliefs. It is an energy that encompasses men too and is healing for the planet.

Help one another, is part of the religion of sisterhood.” Louisa May Alcott

The archetypes of the priestess, the crone, and the goddess runs deep in women, but is buried below the crushing responsibilities and daily demands women put on themselves along with the taut dictates of society: to be the perfect mother, or model wife, amazing lover, and career woman. When women come together, this falls away and they create magic, an atmosphere that is potent and transformative, and a field that is magnetic.

Sisterhood is a movement of kindness.Sisterhood is a movement of kindness.

Sacred aspects of True Sistership

Equality

The circle of life and the circle of sisters represents the innate value of each being. There is no elite, no division, but a warm acceptance of all the colours, shapes and sizes of our sisters. Sisters are different flowers from the same garden. Each is unique and important to the whole. As we appreciate and support each other in our individuality, in beauty, body shape, dreams, life choices, or parenting choices, we create incredible freedom in ourselves and others.

Mastery

Sisterhood supports the expression of our full power as women. It is a supportive journey of mastery over our deep instinctual nature, our thoughts and our physicality. As we mould our inner world, we discover the power to manifest our dreams in the world around us.

The circle of life and the circle of sisters represents the innate value of each being.The circle of life and the circle of sisters represents the innate value of each being.

Stillness

The feminine principle is receptive. In stillness we open to inspiration, we connect deeply with ourselves, so that we are able to hold space more deeply for our families, children, and communities.

Honour

Sisterhood is a path of honouring our sensuality, and our beauty as women, of self acceptance of whatever that form of beauty takes, and of loving the unique divine expression of our bodies and faces. We have a responsibility to care for and love ourselves. When we honour ourselves in this way, we can honour our sisters and families in a deeper way. The true nurturing potential and power of love is free to flow to everyone when it comes from a well of potent and integral love for yourself.

When we honour ourselves in this way, we can honour our sisters and families in a deeper way.When we honour ourselves in this way, we can honour our sisters and families in a deeper way.

Fertility

In each womb, there lies the creative potential of the universe. While we have the ability to birth new life, women also have the capacity to bring their dreams to life out in the world. We have a sacred responsibility to express this creativity, be it through creating a family, a connected community, harmony, works of art, dance, music or anything of beauty. When we create we keep our feminine energy balanced and the unfettered flow of creative expression stems the tide of competition, jealousy and comparison with others. It ensures our relationships with our sisters are alive and happy and our creative urges are fulfilled.

Now more than ever these sacred principles are needed if women are to shine and impact the world around us.

Our own family trees are filled with teaching situations and with tragic examples that may have blinded our own Ancestors to the values of truth as it is found in love. Now, the destiny of wholeness of the human race falls to the Sisterhood because all things are born of woman.

When women are no longer lost, asking others to tell them what they should do or how they should live, there will be great changes in our world. This is not to say that the friendships and bonds of women are not to be used; on the contrary, the support of other women who have walked the same path is paramount. – Jami Sams, The Thirteen Original Clan Mothers

For our world to heal, each woman needs to rediscover herself, find her light and shine it out into the world. We need to guide each other home and now is the time.

By Azriel ReShel

(Featured image from upliftconnect.com)

Why is Shamanism becoming so popular? (read)

Why is shamanism in all its varieties becoming increasingly popular? Why is this happening now?  Author Christa MacKinnon explains.

In a nutshell we can say that as human beings we have an innate drive to develop into ‘all that we can become’, and that we have reached a point where a shift in consciousness and a change of our way of life is inevitable if we want to develop further – or even survive – as a species.

Our efforts over the last two millennia have focused increasingly on material reality, economic growth, consumption and scientifically orientated mental development. This has produced materially wealthy societies, but has neglected our inner and spiritual development. We have lost our connection to the Earth, to our souls and to the sacred within and without, and are deprived of deeper meaning and purpose.

The shamanic archetype, that knowing pattern deep within us, reminds us of how it felt when we were still focused on soul and spirit, embedded in a community and experiencing ourselves as an integral part of existence. It reminds us of what we need to come back to on our human journey if we want to become balanced and whole.

 

We have reached a point in human evolution where many of us are beginning to wake up to the fact that our materialistic world-views, the economic structures of our societies and our one-sided development have created a range of very disturbing ecological, economic, social and political problems and, most importantly, ‘soulless’ societies.

The price we have paid is much higher than can be outlined in the context of this book. The environmental devastation, the extinction of species, the destruction and uprooting of almost all indigenous cultures around the world, the cruelty of slavery, the religious crusades, the horrendous world wars and more tell their own story.

Even our much-hailed economic progress has now – in global terms – produced an inequality in wealth distribution on a scale never seen before, where 1 per cent of the world’s population owns 48 per cent of the world’s wealth.

Even in developed countries that have a good share of the created wealth, we still pay a high price. We have reached record levels of so-called ‘mental disorders’, with depression and anxiety disorders leading the field, and loneliness and isolation following on behind.

The pressure to be ‘well adjusted’ to a soul-denying society is taking its toll. For me as a psychologist, it is not surprising that the suffering of the soul, which has not been catered for at best and negated at worst in contemporary society for a long time now, is ending up in the consulting rooms of medical practitioners, therapists and psychiatrists in the form of psychosomatic pains, diffuse emotional disturbances, hopelessness, disenchantment and depletion of energy as well as anxiety and depressive disorders.

 

Jung warned that if we did not explore and nourish the psyche, we would not survive as a civilization. He understood, as many more do now, that we would lose our souls in the process.

The most important understanding we develop when we get involved in shamanism is that there is no ‘wholeness’, no positive human development, no ultimate joy, contentment and fulfilment, without nourishing our souls, expanding our consciousness and experiencing ourselves as an integrated part of the whole.

So the shamanic archetype within the human psyche is stirring, because it represents what we have lost: the connection to the Earth, to nature, to our soul and to the sacred. It represents all that our fragmented psyche longs for. It represents mystery, magic, community. It represents our yearning to break down the limiting cognitive and ego barriers of our minds, to alter our states and to let our consciousness soar, so that we can experience the sacred in all its awe-inspiring ways.

It represents the human quest of going beyond the limits of the ordinary and of experiencing the magical. It represents our power to dream our own life into being.

It is time to begin.

Go deeper into the world of Shamanism in this extract of Christa MacKinnon’s new Hay House Basics introduction to Shamanism, which is out now.

(featured image by trevor cowan www.ShamanicHelp.org)

Spiritual Parenting: 9 Timeless Truths All Parents Should Teach Their Children

By LJ Vanier

Good advice for adults too.

When children are small, their problems are small and mom or dad can fix just about anything. But the bigger they grow, the same can be said for the problems they will bring home for you to help them manage.

There really is no manual on how to raise children properly. We all do the best we can, with what we have and the tools we have learned on how to get by in this world. But the more equipped we can be as parents, the more well adjusted children we will raise.

9. Everything is temporaryshutterstock_374136676

Nothing lasts forever and it isn’t meant to. The more we cling to the old, the more we harbor the stale and stagnant memories/energies of the past, reverberating them within our own body and keeping them alive within our cells.

Teach your children early on about non attachment. To move and flow with the ups and downs of life, embracing all that can be seen, heard and felt without becoming attached to places and things.

8. Pain helps you grow

Pain is an essential part of life. We grow the most through the difficult experiences in life and so we must embrace our toughest challenges, our deepest sorrows, and our dismal defeats. Be with your child and stand by their side through their heartaches, reassuring them that everything happens for a reason.

Without the darkness, the stars wouldn’t shine.

7. Awareness is everything

shutterstock_366990245We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge. Teach your children to think bigger than themselves.

As the ego is moulding in a young person, there becomes a tendency to become self centred. Everything becomes about them, (me,me,me) and its usually not until they reach school age (or later) where they come to realize that this world is filled with billions of other “me,me’s” that also want to be seen and heard.

It is in this struggle to be heard, to feel unique and special that victim mentality can form as they begin to blame others for their problems, and by teaching them to take responsibility for their own happiness we set them on to a path of self dependance that will take them leaps and bounds ahead of “the crowd”.

6. Find your own path.

As much as we want to help our children grow, learn and find themselves. We can’t live their life and we do not exist inside of them. They are the only ones who can find what resonates with them and what they choose to obtain while they are here.

The more we impose our own predisposed beliefs, view points and indoctrination, the more they conform into the same box we often find ourselves trapped in.

When your child asks questions about the world, instead of immediately responding with what you think you know, ask them what they think, and work your answer around it.

Let them be imaginative. It’s what they do best, and it’s what we lose as we grow older.

 5. Danger is real, fear is not.

The only thing to fear, is fear itself.shutterstock_307192661

Fear is an emotion. An emotional response that is generated by our own thought forms. Whether it be fear of the unknown, fear of death or fear of the future, fear is an illusion.

As we seek to protect our children from the monstrosities of the world, we tend to inflict fear in our children as a means of alerting them to potential dangers. We need to remove fear from the equation and teach solely the dangers. When we inflict fear into our children as a means of protecting them, we are unknowingly putting ourselves in vibrational alignment of those things in which we fear most.  What we resist, persists and in order to raise our vibration we must lose the fear, and ascend into love.

4. Life is about the experience

Life is not a lesson to be learned but an experience to be had, shared and appreciated with the ones we love. We too often like to remind our children that there will be tough lessons to be learned in life, which can in itself, be a defeating attitude. When we can look at life from growth by experience, it lightens the severity of the situation, which allows for a more free flowing transition through each stage of growth.

3. Your perception of the world depends on you.

The world is nothing but a mirror.

shutterstock_357969482Even as adults we are still learning that the way in which we look upon the world relies 100% upon the beliefs, indoctrination and programming that we’ve been subjected to. Now, couple that with emotional burdens and unhealed wounds and voila! we’ve formed an expectation of the world in which we exist.

Now to be honest, their isn’t anyone out there whom can say they’ve had a perfect childhood or upbringing, the growing pains of toddler all the way through adolescence and maturity can take a toll on us. But, we can help to ease this if we are more in tune ourselves.

The better equipped the parent, the more well-adjusted the child. Make a conscious effort to not let your children become dumping grounds for your beliefs and perceptions, keep their minds open and curious, you might learn a thing or two yourself.

2. Find Your Freedom

In order to make ripples and cause waves in the collective conscience of society, it first involves breaking away from the collective conscience of society.

When we introspect through spiritual practice such as meditation, we raise our awareness and when we raise our awareness, we expand our consciousness. We bring conscious memory forward and draw upon the wealth of unlimited knowledge that is found within each of us. (It’s in our DNA).

When we can break the programming of continually drawing only on 3rd dimensional ideals of this ”basic memory storage bank of repetitious action”, we break through the veil and find freedom of spirit.

Let your children think for themselves, challenge them and let them challenge the status quo.

1.”The sky is not the limit, your mind is”.

Teach your children to understand that the only limit that exists is the one they impose upon themselves. People will always say it can’t be done, until it is.

The only limit is your imagination. Get creative!

(featured image thewellnessuniverse.com )

The Four Agreements (read)

Modern Psychology Agrees with Ancient Toltec Wisdom By Tanja Taljaard

 

Most ancient cultures have timeless spiritual wisdom from which we can benefit today. In fact, science and psychology acknowledge the advantages of various age-old practices like meditation, mantra, and yoga, on our overall well being. Many eastern philosophies are incorporated into modern therapies.

There are countless ways to connect with a sense of inner peace and divinity, and the ancient Toltec wisdom embodies many of the universally accepted truths adopted by spiritual traditions around the world.

The Toltecs were a civilisation of Mexico thousands of years ago. They were known as spiritual scientists and artists who explored esoteric knowledge and practices. The Toltec viewed science and spirit as part of the same entity, believing that all energy – material or ethereal – is derived from one source and governed by the same universal laws. The Toltec understood the way the mind functions as dreaming reality. They described the mind as that which controls our dream. With awareness of the source of our dream comes the possibility of changing it.

“Life is nothing but a dream but that dream is alive; you are creating that dream, and that dream working for you is pure magic.” Don Miguel Ruiz

The Toltecs were a civilisation of Mexico thousands of years ago.The Toltec civilisation thrived in Mexico from around 900AD and still informs its spirituality.

The Four Agreements

Almost 20 years ago, Don Miguel Ruiz wrote a book called The Four Agreements. It explores the modern meaning of the Toltec teachings as a way to personal freedom and spiritual empowerment. Many people have found that committing to these four agreements have changed their lives and made them happier, more loving human beings.

Dr John A. Johnson, professor of psychology, believes that most of these ideas are highly similar to concepts used in modern psychology. He claims that Ruiz’s book could be a primer for congnitive-behavioral therapy, which treats problems and increases happiness by modifying dysfunctional emotions, behaviours, and thoughts. It encourages patients to challenge distorted cognitions and change destructive patterns of behaviour.

In his book, Ruiz explains that children do not know any better than to agree with the adult realities into which they are indoctrinated. All children are born perfectly loving, playful, and genuine. Parents, however, teach their children standards of behaviour that they must follow in order to receive love and avoid criticism. These standards eventually become internalized into an unconscious set of instructions for living life. Ruiz says that the reason why people from shamanic traditions in America call themselves ‘warriors’ is because they’re in a war for independence and the right to use their own mind and break free. Dr Johnson agrees that as we mature, we can become warriors breaking free from the shackles of agreements with our fixed, false ideas. We can accept healthier agreements.

Parents teach their children standards of behaviour that they must follow to receive love.Parents teach their children standards of behaviour that they must follow.

Be Impeccable with your Word

Ruiz claims that this is the most important and most difficult agreement to honour. Committing a thought to word brings the thought to life. Being impeccable with your word means to use your energy in the direction of truth and love for yourself and, by extension, others. “Misuse of the word is how we pull each other down and keep each other in a state of fear and doubt.” It’s like poison. We use the word against ourselves through negative self-talk, and we use the word against others through gossip; trying to gain support from others to support our point of view. “Tell yourself how much you love yourself. Use the word to break all those agreements that make you suffer.”

Don’t take anything personally

We all have a unique way of looking at the world. When we say and do things, we are doing so directly through our view of the world. When you take things personally and feel offended, your reaction is to defend your beliefs and create conflict. Those beliefs are a reflection of your own agreements that you’ve made with life. Your point of view is personal to you; it’s no one’s truth but yours. Don’t take anything personally, even if someone tells you how wonderful you are! The opinions you have about yourself are not necessarily true either; therefore, you don’t need to take whatever you hear in your own mind personally. We have a choice of what to believe and agree with.

You don’t need to take whatever you hear in your own mind personally.You don’t need to take whatever you hear in your own mind personally.

Don’t make assumptions

There’s a well know saying that goes with the word assume… Ruiz states, “The problem with making assumptions is that we believe that they are the truth. We could swear that they’re real. We make an assumption, we misunderstand, we take it personally, and we end up creating a whole big drama for nothing.” We often start gossiping about our assumptions. We have agreed that it’s not safe to ask questions, and also that, if people love us, they should know what we want or how we feel. Find the courage to ask questions until you’re as clear as you can be. Also, find your voice to express what you really want. With clear communication, all of your relationships will change.

Always do your Best

“Best” does not mean perfect. Your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next. Sometimes your best will be high quality, and other times it won’t be as good. Your best will be different when you’re healthy as opposed to sick, feeling happy or upset. Regardless of the quality, keep doing your best. When you overdo, you deplete yourself, and when you do less than your best, you subject yourself to self-judgment, guilt and regrets. Support and encourage yourself.” If you’re doing your best, you will feel good about yourself even if you still make assumptions, take things personally, and still are not impeccable with your word. If you do your best always, you will become a master of transformation.”

“Best” does not mean perfect.“Best” does not mean perfect.

By changing the foundation of your own agreements, you master your own dream.

“Your life is the manifestation of your dream; it is an art. Dream masters create a masterpiece of life; they control the dream by making choices. Everything has consequences and a dream master is aware of the consequences.”

(featured image from upliftconnect.com)

Ikigai – Finding your reason for being

Chip Richards shares a simple method to look deeper into yourself.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

 

When asked what is the single most powerful contributing factor to one’s health and vitality, integrative medical doctor Oscar Serrallach answered without hesitation: having a sense of purpose. Serrallach went on to describe that while some of his patients have developed great regimes of nutrition, lifestyle activities and movement to support their wellbeing; those without a clear sense of purpose in their life experience continuing struggle with physical health issues. The distinguishing quality of many of his healthiest patients – those who  transcend common health challenges despite not having lived by the book, in terms of healthy lifestyle factors – is that they seem to be the most aligned or ‘called’ towards some primary focus of meaning in their life.

Japanese culture actually has a word which addresses this focus. The word is ikigai and translates simply as, ‘reason for being’.

What is Your ‘Reason for Being’?

According to the Japanese, everyone has an ikigai. To find it often requires deep enquiry and lengthy ‘search of self’ – a search which is highly regarded.

Ikigai diagramFour primary elements of ikigai

The term ikigai is composed of two Japanese words: iki referring to life, and kai, which roughly means “the realisation of what one expects and hopes for”. Unpacking the word and its associated symbol a bit further, ikigai is seen as the convergence of four primary elements:

  • What you Love (your passion)
  • What the World Needs (your mission)
  • What you are Good at (your vocation)
  • What you can get Paid for (your profession)

The word ikigai, that space in the middle of these four elements, is seen as the source of value or what make one’s life truly worthwhile. In Okinawa, Japan, ikigai is thought of as “a reason to get up in the morning”. Interestingly, while certainly incorporating the financial aspects of life, the word is more often used to refer to the mental and spiritual state behind our circumstance as opposed to our current economic status alone. Even if we are moving through a dark or challenging time, if we are moving with purpose, if we are feeling called toward something or have a clear goal in mind, we may still experience ikigai. Often the behaviors that make us feel ikigai are not the ones we are forced to take based on the expectations of the world around us, but rather they are the natural actions and spontaneous responses that emerge from a deep and direct connection to life.

Feeling called to somethingFeeling called to something

The Question of Purpose

Many ancient indigenous cultures took time to honour the question of purpose through ceremony, vision quest and rites of passage in order to help reveal the essential role that each member was born to play in the greater tribe and story of life; though the space and reverence for this question does not always seem to exist today. For many, our decisions around life-focus unfold in a more reactionary way, propelling us into educational, professional and life-directional paths based less on deep inner calling or soul-inspired vision, and more on societal expectations, so-called ‘practical reality’ and what is required to survive in the systems we’ve created to live in.

The truth is, if there was ever a time on our planet where a sense of true purpose was needed, required, or desperately called for, now would be that time. But amidst the multi-layered pressures of our modern world, how do we peel back the layers and discover why we are here and what we are really supposed to be doing?

American mythologist and author Joseph Campbell shared his view on fulfilling our purpose when he said,

My general formula for my students is, ‘Follow your bliss.’ Find where it is, and don’t be afraid to follow it.

Follow your blissFollow your bliss

Sacred Activism, encourages us on the other hand to find our purpose by ‘following our heartbreak’. Andrew Harvey calls us to discover that which is most deeply disturbing in our world and to use this as a catalyst to propel our actions and discover where we can make the biggest difference.

Meanwhile, philosopher and civil rights leader Howard W Thurman said:

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and do that… Because what the world really needs is people who have come alive.

While each of these viewpoints are powerfully compelling in their own right, whether we are following our bliss, following our heartbreak, or that which makes us come alive (or a combination of all three!), for many of us there is also an apparent need to follow that which pays the bills each month and allows us to cover the basic necessities of life. So how do we balance all of these factors in the creation of a life which is meaningful, purposeful and aligned with our true calling? Is it possible to have it all? The essence of ikigai gives us a framework to balance these elements into a cohesive whole.

Slam poetAsk what makes you come alive and do that

Passion as a vehicle for change and contribution

As the world moves through massive change on many levels, more and more people are feeling called to align their skills and gifts with a higher cause or sense of contribution. Beautiful examples are emerging in many arenas of social change and activism where people are not abandoning their passion for the cause but rather channeling the thing they most love doing in the direction of positive change – and discovering inspired ways to support themselves along the way.

Sixteen year old rapper, dancer and global youth director of Earth Guardians Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is a living example of ikigai, blending his creative gifts and passion for the Earth in the rise of a world-wide youth-lead revolution in support of future generations.  Poet/rapper/Facebook sensation Prince Ea has woven his love and concern for humanity and Earth with a gift for capturing profound messages into powerfully creative 3-5 minute videos – an expression of ikigai which galvanises the energy and support of millions of people online each week. Visionary art therapist and yoga teacher Atira Tan responded to her “heartbreak” witnessing child sex trafficking in Asia and has discovered incredible passion and aliveness through the sharing of her global foundation Art2Healing, bringing justice and transformational healing and movement arts to those who have suffered from this experience.

Youth Director of Earth Guardians, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, in hip-hop expression of ikigaiYouth Director of Earth Guardians, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, in hip-hop expression of ikigai

The truth is many of the challenges we face in today’s world are not simple, technical challenges. They are complex, multi-dimensional issues which will require expansive, multi-dimensional thinking and action. The type of thinking, action and energy that emerges naturally when we are in the throes of creative expression or connection with others. When we are immersed in any endeavor that brings us into our hearts, that makes us come alive – and we are bringing ourselves fully to it – instantly we become more generative, more magnetic and more dynamic in our ability to navigate challenges and discover pathways of breakthrough.

IkigaiWhat is your ikigai?

What is Your Ikigai?

Take a moment to draw your own version of the overlapping circles of the ikigai symbol and consider the following:

  • What do you Love? What aspects of your life bring you into your heart and make you come alive?
  • What are you Great at? What unique skills do you have that come most naturally to you? What talents have you cultivated and what do you excel at even when you aren’t trying?
  • What Cause do you believe in? What breaks your heart or pulls at your gut? What change would you most love to create in the world? What would you give your life for?
  • What do people Value and pay you for? What service, value or offering do you bring, or could you bring, that brings real value to others? Something people need and are happy to pay for or share some value in exchange?

Take a few minutes to write whatever key words, phrases and ideas come up for you in each circle, then look for areas of natural overlap. Reflect on the sum total of these elements and how they may relate to each other. Bring yourself quietly to the centre of the circles and leave space in your mind for whatever impulse or calling may emerge naturally in the coming days… What is one simple thing you could do or be today that would be an expression of your ikigai?

featured image from upliftconnect.com

As I Began to Love Myself (read and watch)

As I Began to Love Myself – Self Love Poem attributed to Charlie Chaplin

As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering
are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth.
Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody
As I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time
was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this
person was me. Today I call it “RESPECT”.

As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life,
and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow.
Today I call it “MATURITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance,
I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens
at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm.
Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE”.

As I began to love myself I quit steeling my own time,
and I stopped designing huge projects for the future.
Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do
and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in
my own rhythm. Today I call it “SIMPLICITY”.

As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for
my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew
me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude
a healthy egoism. Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF”.

As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since
I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is “MODESTY”.

As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worry
about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where EVERYTHING
is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT”.

As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me
and it can make me sick. But As I connected it to my heart, my
mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this
connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART”.

We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems
with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing
new worlds are born.Today I know THAT IS “LIFE”!

(featured image from www.locustherapy.com)

The Four Stages of Spiritual Growth

By Chip Richards on Wednesday March 30th, 2016
SipritualGrowth2

A Guide for the journey from Victimhood to True Empowerment

Einstein has a well-shared quote in our modern day which says, “we cannot solve a problem with the same level of consciousness that created it.” This is a powerful realisation for humanity to embrace as we explore pathways to regenerate the vitality of our living planet and build systems for living that will sustain us harmoniously into the future. But if a shift in consciousness is what is required… how do we actually do (or be) that? How do we create a shift in who we are being such that it positively impacts our visions and our actions in the world? And how do we gauge our progress on the path?

In recent times, our path of personal and planetary development has been influenced by a myriad of different perspectives in science, spirituality, indigenous wisdom and multiple schools of self awareness, self development, movement and thought. Ancient and modern practices have merged with the intent of helping us shed limiting patterns and past experience in order to more powerfully align with the infinite possibilities of life.

In the mid 1980’s, author and founder of Agape International Spiritual Center Michael Beckwith introduced a simple model for understanding the Four Stages of Spiritual Growth and Development. While this is not the only guide to understand the stages of human consciousness, the context of Beckwith’s model is a practical and empowering perspective on our journey from victim-hood to empowerment, connection and oneness with the greater forces of life. Let’s take a look.

Ancient and modern practices have merged to help us align more powerfully with the infinite possibilities of life.

Stage one: ‘TO ME’

The first stage of spiritual development is what Beckwith calls the ‘To Me’ stage. It’s also referred to as the victim stage as it is an early level of awareness where our primary perception is that life is happening ‘to us’. Like a child new to the world, or someone who has not yet claimed full responsibility for his/her life, in the ‘To Me’ stage we experience ourselves at the effect of the people and circumstances of our life. There are times in each of our lives when we feel like we are on the receiving end of challenges, opportunities, relationships, job assignments, etc. and while we may have desires for a different circumstance, at the time it really feels as though ‘life is happening to us’.

As with each of the four stages, in order to move from one stage to the next, Beckwith tells us we must be willing to let go of something en route to claiming a new aspect of who we really are. In order to move from the ‘To Me’ stage of our development into stage two, what we must be willing to let go of… is blame. After reacting, resisting and blaming others (or life itself) for our circumstance, eventually we come to a place where we are ready to claim more of a sense of personal responsibility and become more of a generative force in our life. Through choice or necessity we make a shift and begin to experience ourselves taking matters of our life into our own hands.

Stage one is also referred to as the victim stageLike a child new to the world, Stage 1 feels like life is happening “To Me.”

Stage two: ‘BY ME’

Even if we are fully justified to blame others for our current situation, there comes a time when we must realise that as long as we are making others responsible for our circumstance, we are giving away our power and limiting our ability to make the necessary changes. As we let go of the need to blame anyone (including ourselves!) for where we are, we open ourselves to shift into our next stage of development, becoming active manifestors of the path we truly want/need to be on.

During stage two, the ‘By Me’ phase of our journey, we may initially feel stretched or challenged by our circumstance, but this challenge is often what is needed for us to dig deeper and become a causative agent in our experience. This is the stage of the journey where we get to discover that we are far more capable than we realised. We are not victims of circumstance but rather creators of it.

The ‘By Me’ stage of development is often a building (or rebuilding) phase, where our actions must be grounded, real, focused and self-driven. Breakthroughs in this arena often require focused determination (and sometimes sweat!) and they leave us with the sense of personal accomplishment, “I did it! I can do it!”. In the stage of ‘By Me’, we move past victim-hood and begin to emerge with a sense of personal ownership of the life we create, earn, cause and achieve. This is a powerful step on the path.

In the “By Me” Stage, we take responsibility as active creators of our reality.

Stage three: ‘THROUGH ME’

When we have worked hard at developing skills in any activity or endeavor (from music to sports to mathematics), there is a moment when we cross over from pure focused effort to a feeling of grace and flow with what we are doing. We may have been building skills and trying the same thing over and over for quite some time, when suddenly, we go from playing the music to feeling as though the music is actually playing through us. We go from being the surfer using our skills to surf the wave, to feeling the energy of the ocean guiding our flow upon it. From being the writer of the story, to feeling as though the creative essence of the story itself is expressing through our pen onto the page.

When we enter ‘Through Me’ consciousness we go from a sense of personal significance grounded in our own achievements, to feeling a sense of humility about being part of something greater than ourselves. In order to move from the ‘By Me’ stage into stage three, what we must be willing to let go of is our need for control. As we let go of having to be the soul generator and controller of each outcome, we open ourselves up to discover a new sense of trust and connectedness to the bigger story/currents/song ready to flow through us.

Sometimes the experience of ‘Through Me’ comes as a graceful extension of personal exertion, and sometimes it arrives more abruptly as we reach the limit of our own personal skills or abilities and have no choice but to surrender, opening ourselves up to be conduits or instruments of the higher energetic forces within.

We feel a sense of humility about being part of something greater than ourselvesWe feel a sense of humility about being part of something greater than ourselves.

Stage four: ‘AS ME’

When we let go of blame and move from our perception of life as something that happens ‘To Me’, we begin to discover our true power in life happens ‘By Me’. When we let go of the need to control, we move from our experience of life happening ‘By Me’, to discovering our connection to the greater powers of life moving ‘Through Me’. As we allow our individual expression to merge completely with the energy we are experiencing or creating in the world, we realise we are actually part of the infinite creative force of the universe, which is expressing and experiencing itself individualised ‘As Me’.I am God/spirit/universe/nature/consciousness.

As we travel through the third stage of our development and experience a sense of the greater flow moving ‘Through Me’ consistently in life or endeavour, we begin to reach this fourth leaping-off point and the simple but profound realisation that whatever is moving ‘Through Me’ is also inside of me. That this greater energetic force and I are actually made of the same source material. Like a ray of the sun or a wave in the ocean, I am actually an individualised expression of this greater force, which is now moving, breathing and acting in the world ‘As Me’.

A picture must possess a real power to generate light, and for a long time now I’ve been conscious of expressing myself through light, or rather in light. – Henri Matisse

To move beyond the experience of life occurring ‘Through Me’ and into the ‘As Me’ stage of spiritual development, what we must be willing to let go of is our sense of separation. As we do this (or rather ‘be’ this), we open ourselves to discover the experience of genuine unity or oneness in life and endeavor. We release our perception of the infinite nature of the universe as a causative energy that exists outside of us, and we open ourselves to experience this infinite nature in and ‘as’ our very being. The music, the ocean, the story are not only moving ‘Through Me’… they are the living expression of who I am. This is flow in its greatest sense and many would say it is our ultimate reason for being here. Through our actions, experiences, relationships and being, to remember and experience ourselves as unique expressions of the absolute.

The music, the ocean, the story are not only moving ‘Through Me’… they are the living expression of who I amThe music, the ocean, the story are not only moving ‘Through Me’… they are the living expression of who I am.

Takeaways and Reflection

We each have experiences of these stages of development at different times in different areas of our life. Whether or not we arrive at a permanent state of ‘As Me’ in every aspect of our existence, it is powerful to consider what shifts we can make within ourselves to support our steps along the path.

Stage one: ‘To Me’

Life is a series of events, relationships and circumstances that happen to me.
In order to move to beyond stage one, I must be willing to let go of: blame.
In doing so, I claim/discover: responsibility and personal empowerment.

Stage two: ‘By Me’

I move into my role as a manifestor, claiming my ability to create and influence my circumstance in life.
In order to move beyond stage two, I must be willing to let go of: control.
In doing so, I discover: trust and connection with energetic forces beyond my individual self.

Stage three: ‘Through Me’

I am an instrument and conduit for Life to move and express through me.
In order to move beyond stage three, I must be willing to let go of: separation.
In doing so, I discover: oneness.

Stage four: ‘As Me’

I and the infinite forces of the universe are ONE. I am God/spirit/life, being me. At once unique and intrinsically part of the greater whole. I am one with all of life.

We each have experiences of these stages of development at different times in different areas of our lifeWe each have experiences of these stages of development at different times in different areas of our life.

Is there an area of your life that you are currently seeking to create a shift in your experience?

If so, what stage of development would you currently place yourself in this area?
What might you need to let go of or claim in order to cause a shift in your own consciousness and open the path for your next stage of experience?

Each one of us is Life personalized. We are each Life as a person; therefore, each one of us contains within himself all the intelligence, the power, the faculties and the instruments for the expression of Life… To know that Life became you for a purpose and that you occupy a place no one else in all the world occupies. – Dan Custer (The Miracle of Mind Power)

Feature Image: Detail from ‘Arise’, by Amanda Sage  from upliftconnect.com

Documentary on Happiness (video)

Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. A variety of biological, psychological, religious, and philosophical approaches have striven to define happiness and identify its sources. Various research groups, including positive psychology, endeavor to apply the scientific method to answer questions about what “happiness” is, and how it might be attained.

It is of such fundamental importance to the human condition that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” were deemed to be unalienable rights by the United States Declaration of Independence.

The United Nations declared 20 March the International Day of Happiness to recognize the relevance of happiness and well being as universal goals. In 2014, Happy became the anthem and inspired clips from around the world.

(featured image – flickr.com)

Nic Askew – Soul Biographies – On Knowing Happiness (video Potrait)

No matter what you tell the world, the truth is there for all to see in ‘the way you are‘. Forceful and incongruent words cannot hold up their dishonesty for ever. Each of us knows this.

And when the need to impress, to carve out a place in the world has fallen by the wayside, there someone is. And it is this that I set out to capture in my films. It seems the useful. Perhaps even important.

Meet Kath(ryn). Unscripted, undirected.
As – she – is. In a film concerning the often missed nature of happiness.

Kath is Founder of the HAPPINESS FOUNDATION in the United Kingdom.

http://nicaskew.com/collection/on-knowing-happiness/

(featured image – nicaskew.com)